Protect yourself from email spam

Email spam is more than just the annoying online version of junk mail. Review these tips to protect yourself from email spam.

Why you get email spam—and how to avoid it

Email spam can contain spyware or Trojan malware. It may also direct you to phishing websites. Scammers use these sites to trick you into giving your personal or financial info.

Be cautious of emails asking for your personal, account, or credit card info. If you get such a message, you should report it to AT&T Internet Security at You can also forward the email to the Anti Phishing Working Group at, or report it to the FTC.  

Why you get spam

Since email is a cheap way to contact people, marketers send lots of them to try to sell their products and services. They have several ways of creating spam lists:
  • Scanning online discussion groups for email addresses
  • Visiting chatrooms
  • Buying or stealing internet mailing lists
  • Searching the web for email addresses
  • Randomly guessing email addresses
How to avoid spam
  • Alter your email address in public forums. If you post your email address in a public place, you may want to change the address slightly. One way to do this is to add an x element to your user ID. For instance, instead of, your email address could say or Try to be as creative as possible with both the placement and use of special characters.  (Just remember to remove the x element if you answer a post with email.)
  • Don't give out your email address without knowing how it will be used. Read the terms of use and privacy statements of sites before providing your email address. If you can't find the site's privacy statement, don't divulge your address.
  • Don't reply to a spam email, even if the spammer offers to unsubscribe you. A reply lets the spammer know your email address is active, potentially resulting in more spam.
  • Never click a URL or website address listed within a spam email. This lets the spammer know the validity of your email address, potentially resulting in more spam.
  • Never sign up with sites that promise to remove your name from spam lists. Although some of these sites may be legitimate, more often than not, they are address collectors. The legitimate sites are ignored (or exploited) by the spammers, and the address collection sites are owned by spammers. In both cases, your address is recorded and valued more highly because you have just identified the address is active.

Protect yourself and your friends

Email messages forwarded multiple times, like jokes or email hoaxes, are an easy way for spammers to harvest email addresses. Protect yourself and your friends by removing all addresses when you forward emails. It's easy: just highlight the addresses showing in the message body, and select Delete.

Another way to protect your friends is to keep their email addresses private. Do this by using the BCC field instead of the To field for all your recipients. It works the same, but the email will show undisclosed recipients instead of your friends' names and email addresses.

Additional information

Report and filter spam
Learn how to instantly remove spam and report it to us.

Troubleshoot a hacked email account
If you’re getting spam from your own AT&T email account, your account may have been hacked. Learn how to troubleshoot a hacked email account.
AT&T security information
Learn more about how to protect your personal information and keep your devices safe.
Last updated: December 7, 2022

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